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How to distinguish whether your symptom is withdrawal related or not


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I have 'lifted' this from the Recovery Road Wellness site.  Bliss Johns (author of Benzo Wise) posted this message today.


It may be helpful to some.





I’m sharing this here because almost daily we receive messages asking how can one tell if a particular symptom is withdrawal-related or not. To distinguish between the two, we have found the following to be most useful:


Diagnostics: Tests results will be usually be negative. There are a few that may not be normal, but this will still be due to withdrawal. For example, blood sugar and blood pressu...re could be high or low, an EEG may show slight abnormalities, an ECG could show mild heart irregularities, but these will be withdrawal reactions. Also, many people are nutrient-deficient in withdrawal (due to not being able to take vitamins/supplements or having modified diets) so certain levels may be low.


Timing: If the symptom surfaced during or after your taper, or even while you were on the drug (but were most likely in tolerance withdrawal - when a dosage increase is needed in order for it to be effective) it can be regarded as withdrawal-related.


Medical/physical symptoms: If it is a psychological symptom, are medical symptoms present at well? Usually they are, and they would have appeared around the same time. But even if you have no medical symptoms, once you are within the usual withdrawal timeframe, it is best to wait before considering other treatment. Once you are emotionally safe and able to cope, waiting is the wisest option.


Reinstatement: If you had a symptom which dramatically disappeared after you took a dose of the drug. Of course, you won’t be doing this to check! :)


Note: Reinstating does not always work, and when it does, it can sometimes take weeks or months before the symptoms begin to fade. If you are well into your recovery journey and are coping, this should not be considered. (If you are having seizures, psychosis, etc. due to a cold-turkey or detox situation, then yes... see your doctor immediately regarding reinstating.)


“Chemical” feel: Many of our friends describe the feelings as being chemical or organic - as in caused by the imbalances created by the drug. They describe it as more of a strange physical feeling which involves adrenaline rushes, shakiness, agitation, lethargy, etc. accompanied by organic fear/anxiety or depression with no apparent emotional link. They usually say it is 'off the charts' and nothing like what they used to feel before withdrawal.


Didn’t mean to write so much but I wanted to explain it well. Whether you are in withdrawal from an antidepressant or a benzo, I hope it helps in some way. Have a good Thursday. ~Bliss

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this is a very good thread because w/d symptoms confuse so many people. in my early w/d i went to the er because i thought i was going to have a heart attack. anxiety, heart palpatations and bp were off the charts. they admitted me and did a battery of tests. ecg, ekg, blood work stress test, nuclear scan,etc, etc, all tests were normal. i told them i was w/d from benzos and the doctors  never said a word. one nurse said" are you sure it isn't just w/d from benzodiazepines?" I thought" just w/d from benzo"? she doesn't have a clue how bad this is. It's always better to be safe than sorry or worse. when people first experience benzo w/d it is such a shock you just can't believe a little pill can cause so much suffering. rstud
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